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Utanför experimentlådan: kunskapsproduktion, tid och materia i förskolans naturvetenskapsundervisning
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Science and Mathematics Education. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS). (UmSER)ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7273-5442
2017 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Outside the science box : knowledge production, time, and matter in preschool science teaching (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to contribute knowledge on conditions for science teaching in preschool. While Swedish preschool practices commonly build on children’s subjective experiences, scientific knowledge production is often associated with objectivity and detachedness. Seen from that perspective, tensions may occur when the knowledge cultures of preschool and science meet, as when science teaching is implemented in preschool. This thesis seeks to explore issues that are crucial for teachers to negotiate when they implement science teaching in preschool.

The thesis includes five articles that build on empirical data in the form of teachers’ talk (interviews, focus group discussion, project meetings) and observation data from preschool practice. The data analyses draw on various theoretical perspectives, including communities of practice and feminist critique of science as well as theoretical concepts connected to framing and agential realism.

The main result is that it is crucial, to teachers’ implementation of science teaching in preschool, that science content is open to children’s contributions. Further, the results show that teachers integrate several different forms of knowledge production when working with science content in practice. For example, observations and systematic investigations are combined with imagination and children’s bodily experiences. This goes against the presumed tensions between the knowledge cultures of preschool and science. However, tensions between the knowledge cultures are indicated by teachers’ unwillingness to interfere with children’s investigative processes or ideas about science content by relating children’s ideas to scientific explanatory models. Seen from a teacher’s perspective, it appears to be unproblematic to leave children’s ideas about science content unresolved, compared to leaving children’s ideas about social relations and other content unresolved.

Drawing on the results, I discuss teaching beyond the limited material and temporal dimensions of the science box, which emerges as a metaphor when teachers describe a way of teaching that they are not comfortable with. Further, I suggest that the concept working theories, which addresses children’s tentative ideas about relations in their surrounding world, be introduced in preschool science teaching, to ease the perceived conflict between children’s ideas about science and scientific explanatory models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet , 2017. , 98 p.
Series
Doktorsavhandlingar i pedagogiskt arbete, ISSN 1650-8858 ; 78
Keyword [en]
preschool, science education, knowledge cultures, symbolic gender, working theories, time, matter, design-based research
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135095ISBN: 978-91-7601-708-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-135095DiVA: diva2:1096647
Public defence
2017-06-13, N360, Naturvetarhuset, Umeå, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Förskolans praktik i mötet med naturvetenskapMiljöer för naturvetenskap i förskolan
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2011-5657
Available from: 2017-05-23 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2017-05-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. "Drawing the leaves anyway": teachers embracing children's different ways of knowing in preschool science practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>"Drawing the leaves anyway": teachers embracing children's different ways of knowing in preschool science practice
2016 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This study explores if and how teachers combine practices of science and of preschool (children 1–5 years old) into preschool science practice. Views of knowing may differ between science practices, traditionally associated with masculinity and rationality, and preschool practices, traditionally associated with femininity and caring. Recognising this, wehave chosen to focus on how teachers’ talk constructs and relates to possible ways of gaining knowledge and reaching explanations of phenomena in preschool science. The analysis buildson two concept pairs often associated with gender as well as knowing: objective-subjective and logical-intuitive. The analysed material consists of 11 group interviews where preschool teachers talk about activities concerning science content. Our results show that several ways of knowing are possible in work with science content in preschool. These include ways of knowing more associated with subjectivity, such as ‘individual liking’ and ‘whole-body perception’, as well as more associated with objectivity, such as ‘noticing differences and similarities’. Furthermore, the results show that the teachers’ talk moves readily between possibilities associated with femininity (subjective and intuitive) and masculinity (objective and logical). This indicates that the teachers in this study have found ways to handle science in preschool that goes against presumed tensions between science and preschool practices. The results contribute to more nuanced ways of describing and thinking about science in preschool and pave the way for further development of science education in early childhood education.

Keyword
Early childhood education, Science education, Preschool teachers, Gendered practices
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-127418 (URN)10.1007/s11165-016-9557-3 (DOI)
Projects
Förskolans praktik i mötet med naturvetenskap
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 721 2011 5657
Available from: 2016-11-10 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2017-06-07
2. Navigating the risky terrain of children's working theories
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Navigating the risky terrain of children's working theories
2016 (English)In: Early years, ISSN 0957-5146, E-ISSN 1472-4421Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

‘Working theories’ encompass children’s theorising about the social and material worlds. This article looks explicitly at power relations involved in pedagogy around children’s working theories by focusing on the teacher’s control of what and whose working theories get unpacked and extended. From an analysis of four cases from early childhood education (ECE) settings, it is concluded that teaching strategies are related to possible risks of unpacking and extending children’s working theories. From a teacher’s perspective such risks include: undermining the ECE setting’s rules; exposing one’s own lack of knowledge or skills; or risking the relations and atmosphere in the group or setting. These risks affect how working theories are dealt with in terms of time – right away, later or never – and voicing, as teachers regulate children’s ideas for example through making concrete, reconstructing or silencing them.

Keyword
Early childhood, working theories, pedagogy, teaching strategies, power
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126042 (URN)10.1080/09575146.2016.1191441 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-09-27 Created: 2016-09-27 Last updated: 2017-06-07
3. How does matter matter in preschool science?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How does matter matter in preschool science?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This chapter explores the implications, for science education, of acknowledging matter as an agentic factor in preschool (Swedish educational setting for children aged 1 to 5 years). Reading empirical data from preschool settings together with Karen Barad’s agential realism, five examples are brought forward to address different aspects of how matter matters to science learning and teaching. These examples include how the ground and time of year matter to the scope of science learning possibilities, how friction and balance emerges in intra-action of a wooden bridge and children, and how modes of expression other than verbal language can be used to extend children’s experiences of rolling. The implications for science teaching are discussed based on the assumption that teacher power matters to what parts of the material world that children have real access to, and what type of intra-actions that are meaningful in preschool settings.

Keyword
science teaching, material, physical environment, time, early childhood education
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135092 (URN)
Available from: 2017-05-18 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2017-05-19
4. Science verbs as a tool for investigating scientific phenomena: a pedagogical idea emerging from practitioner-researcher collaboration
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Science verbs as a tool for investigating scientific phenomena: a pedagogical idea emerging from practitioner-researcher collaboration
2016 (English)In: NorDiNa: Nordic Studies in Science Education, ISSN 1504-4556, E-ISSN 1894-1257, Vol. 12, no 2, 235-245 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper communicates the pedagogical idea of approaching scientific phenomena through verbs. The idea has sprung from a collaboration between preschool practitioners and a researcher, addressing science education in preschool (children aged 1-5 years). Drawing on a joint problem inventory, the project group aimed to create a teaching model that supports inquiry-oriented approaches to science, and teachers’ ability of distinguishing chemical processes and physics phenomena in everyday practice. The core idea of the teaching model turned out to be a list of everyday verbs, connected to scientific phenomena. Starting from verbs appear to help teachers to recognise the scientific phenomena in everyday practice. Further, the verbs guide the formulating of questions that can be answered by scientific inquiry, such as: ''what matters to how something melts/rolls/mixes?''.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oslo: Naturfagsenteret, 2016
Keyword
Science, inquiry-oriented, preschool, design-based research
National Category
Pedagogical Work
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-126043 (URN)
Available from: 2016-09-27 Created: 2016-09-27 Last updated: 2017-05-19Bibliographically approved
5. Why do teachers adopt or resist a pedagogical idea for teaching science in preschool?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Why do teachers adopt or resist a pedagogical idea for teaching science in preschool?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Numerous initiatives are carried out across the world to support science teaching in early childhood education. However, professional development research shows that in order for teaching interventions to bring about successful changes in practice, it is key that teacher’s beliefs, confidence and knowledge change. As a complement to studies showing how teachers change, this article exa­­mines why teachers adopt a pedagogical idea for teaching science in preschool. Drawing on Clarke and Hollingsworth’s model for teacher professional growth, the article analyses interviews with teachers that have implemented and developed a pedagogical idea for teaching science in preschool. The results indicate that teachers adopt the pedagogical idea because it helps them to discern and build on science content in everyday practice, which they prefer to their previous way of teaching science through occasional experiments. Further the results show that teachers balance several exter­nal influences on what is good preschool pedagogy. The particular pedagogical idea eases that balancing act since it aligns with, and helps teachers to make meaning of, many of these influences.

Keyword
science education, preschool, professional development, teacher-researcher collaboration, early childhood education
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
educational work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-135093 (URN)
Available from: 2017-05-18 Created: 2017-05-18 Last updated: 2017-05-19

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